Updated: May 1
Hello and welcome to my blog!
I hope you enjoy all my experiences on the farm and what I learned along the way!
Where my Journey Began 8/5/19
It all started when I decided to take a look on Indeed.com one Monday afternoon in August. I had recently graduated from Montclair State University with a degree in business administration, but no direction as to where I wanted to go next. I searched for different internships in my area and the hospitality internship at the farm was one of the first ones that popped up. I had an interest in hospitality and farm life, so this sparked a huge interest for me. I applied for the position and twenty minutes later, I received a call from Kathy Fields, the owner of Flint Hill Farm. We talked for about fifteen minutes and made a date for me to visit the farm and see how I could possibly fit in there.
As soon as I arrived on the farm for this first time, I knew only good things could come out of this. Since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to work with animals or on a farm. That may be a silly thing to want, but I have been drawn to animals and they always seem to take a liking to me. The farm was very creative and quaint. The first thing you see is the artwork on the barns and the dairy store. Kathy greeted me and we continued to tour the farm as she told me different stories about the farm and its unique features.
The Blacksmith Shop is one of my favorite places on the farm. It has the original barn doors that the blacksmith would use to open and move the horses. The forge is still in there as well and the farm offers blacksmith classes.
taught by a professional blacksmith. I have yet to see these take place because our blacksmith had to leave temporarily, but hopefully they will be up and running soon enough! The farm also has a bed and breakfast located in the farmhouse. There are three rooms, which are the Equine Room, the Loom Room, and the Master Bedroom. The farmhouse is from 1850 and contains so many treasures, including about six different coo coo clocks that continue to go off throughout the day.
After the tour, Kathy and I sat down and discussed what my interests were and if this internship would be of any interest to me. My duties would include housekeeping of the farmhouse, blacksmith shop, tent and trailer, be creative with the dairy store and help with animals if needed. Kathy wanted me to go home and create a list of expectations that I have for the internship and what I would like to focus on. My main goal was to learn how to run a bed and breakfast so I can one day take my knowledge elsewhere and help that place become successful.
Duties as a Housekeeper
Each day is different on the farm and that is one of my favourite things about it. Regardless if I do the same thing or not each time I am there, something is always a surprise. When I arrive on the farm for the day, Kathy gives me a list of things that need to be done right away. This usually includes checking to see if and how many guests are arriving that day and at what time. It is always important to have all the rooms ready in case there is a last minute booking. There have been a few times where people needed to book a few hours before arriving and I had to scramble to make sure all the rooms were ready.
It took me about a month to get used to everything on the farm. I was able to develop a daily routine for my housekeeping, as well as prioritising other tasks with it. The first thing I do is check the bathroom in the farmhouse. I never know how many people actually used the bathroom, so I always wipe it down and clean any dirty linens or rugs. Then I move to rooms that need dirty linens washed and sheets changed. If there are a spare set of sheets already washed, I will just use those. However, I usually like to wash the linens and put the same ones on as it gives off a fresher scent for the guests.
Once all the rooms are set with clean linens and the beds are made, I then move to cleaning each room. I use a swiffer duster to dust all the window sills, bed frames, underneath the beds, mirrors and dressers. Once that is done, I vacuum the floors and carpets. I then use a swiffer wet to mop the floors and that usually leaves the room smelling so fresh. I like to do that right before the guests come so that they have a fresh scent as soon as they walk in the room.
When I graduated, I knew I wanted to do something in business, but I did not know exactly what it was that I wanted to go into. I figured getting an internship would help give me some direction. When I found this hospitality internship on the farm, it is like it was meant to be. I am learning so much working on a farm and am becoming very well rounded. I am working with several booking sites through the bed and breakfast and have learned how to schedule different stays. The booking and cleaning should always go hand and hand. If I do not understand the basics of cleaning, how am I going to know if something is really clean and how would I be able to teach someone else?
Aside from just cleaning the rooms for the bed and breakfast, I am also responsible for the dairy store on the farm. I am in charge of making sure the dairy store is up to date, clean and organized. I check the coolers for any expired products and I dispose of them to the chickens. The expired products usually include smoothies, milk and kefir. If the cow milk is running low, Kathy showed me how to properly fill the cartons, seal and label them for purchase. I also make sure the flyers we have are neatly set up as well as the shelves and the counter space.
I am considered the hospitality representative and have been given the privilege of hosting events at the farm. I have recently sparked an interest for event planning and Kathy has opened me up to creating my own events and learning the proper way of doing things. An idea that we had when I first came to the farm was hosting an event that would be good for the fall time. Kathy came up with a possible wine and cheese tasting where we would use our cheese from the farm and wine from a local winery. My first job was to start calling around and see if any wineries would be interested in doing a wine and cheese tasting with us.
Wine & Cheese Tasting Preparation 8/31-11/5
I must have called about five different wineries and two of them got back to me in a timely manner. Black River Farms was the first winery to answer back and Suzanne was who I got in contact with. She is the tasting room manager at the winery and was very interested in doing an event with a local farm and their cheese! It turns out that they had been looking for a farm to work with for a while now and she was so grateful that I gave them a call. I chatted with Suzanne over the phone and we agreed to have her come and see the farm the following Wednesday.
On August 31st, we met with Suzanne to chat about a possible wine and cheese tasting. We gave her a tour of the farm and she enjoyed it so much, she brought her granddaughter the following day. Kathy offered her a few cheeses to sample and Suzanne was in heaven. She told us that our cheese was going to pair very well with her wine. She also enjoyed the look of the cheese and thought it would look great in their tasting room as well. We discussed different events that the winery does and how our cheese could possibly play a role in them!
The next meeting we had, I brought our cheese over to the winery and myself, Suzanne and the owner, Chris, sat down and paired each cheese with each wine. I brought three cow cheeses and two goat cheeses. They ended up melting the goat cheese since it was frozen and we actually liked it better that way. We settled on five cheeses with five wines and each pairing had its own unique blend. The date we chose for the event was on a Wednesday in November since the winery usually has events on Saturdays.
In terms of marketing and advertising for the event, I was in charge of that. The first thing I did was send out a mass email to our mailing list informing them about the upcoming event. Then, I made a flyer for the event that gave all the details including where, when, how much and where to buy tickets. I contacted local event sites and had the event listed on as many sites as I could. Our main target market were males and females between the ages of 21-60. I figured out best bet was to create a Facebook event, that way it would reach several thousands of people rather than just a few hundred.
The Facebook event page attracted a lot of traffic at first, but then the number became stagnant. I figured something must have been wrong for people to be clicking on the ticket URL but not buying tickets. So, after looking through and seeing how difficult it was to get to the ticket page, I went in and corrected the error. At first, people had to go through several pages to get to the checkout. I changed it so that tickets would go through Eventbrite and right through Facebook. All the guests had to do then was click on the ticket link for the event and the checkout would come right up. Something I learned here is that if people cannot do something in one click the first time, they will not take the time to do it again.
Wine & Cheese Tasting Event 11/6/19
On the day of the event, I was anxious, yet very excited. I wanted things to run smoothly, but was more concerned about the guests having a good time. We did not know how many people to anticipate based on the issue with the tickets. Kathy invited some of the board members and volunteers for the farm as well. The morning of the event, we decided that appetizers would be a good idea since the event is being held around dinner time and the guests will most likely be looking for something to snack on. I had to run to the store and grab everything we needed to make the appetizers. We decided to make bacon wraps, brushetta, and artichoke dip. There was a family with four children staying in the blacksmith shop so we put them to work! They helped us chop up the veggies and prep everything to be cooked. It was a tremendous help having them there!
We had to figure out then how we wanted to arrange the furniture in the Farmhouse for the event. We brought all of the chairs into the living room where the band was so the guests could sit and enjoy the music.The dining room and kitchen were where the tasting took place. We had five cheeses paired with five wines and guests were able to go around and sample each one. The sample cups were pre-poured next to the appropriate cheese. If guests wanted a refill, they were able to purchase one and have it in their complimentary wine glass. Each station had a label for the cheese describing the taste of it and the texture. Black River Farms provided the wine for the event and they had two volunteers with them. They were both at a station describing the wine and how it paired with the cheese.
Kathy had the great idea of guests having name-tags to make for better conversation throughout the event. Guests were able to network by calling people by their name which made it more comfortable as well. I was in charge of making sure guests find the tasting okay and begin the hostess. I talked to the guests and made sure they all had name-tags. I was also manning the store in case anyone wanted to buy some cheese. Each guest I talked to said they had a wonderful time and would definitely come back for something like this again.
For my first event, it turned out quite well. The only things that made for hiccups along the way were the last minute appetizers and the car for the winery not being able to start. The guests enjoyed the lanterns with tea lights in them that lead a path to the tasting. It was located in the Farmhouse which made for a comfortable setting and guests feeling like they are at a house party. The live music set the tone for the event and so did the mood lighting in the dining room. The appetizers were also a big hit! It was all a learning experience and I cannot wait to start planning the next one!
Giving Before Thanks Event 11/17/19
The winery we collaborated with for the wine and cheese tasting, Black River Farms, had asked us to join them at one of their events. This event was part of the 2019 Lehigh Valley Wine Trail. Each winery on the trail provides a tasting or pairing for the guests along with refreshments and live music as well. The event was held at Black River Farms Winery in both the tasting room and the barrel room.
Flint Hill Farm's cheese was sponsored during the event and paired with the wine. They used the same pairings that we did for the wine and cheese tasting. The guests enjoyed the pairings so much that the winery decided to keep them for future events.
My job during the event was to sell our cheese to any guests that were interested after doing the pairing. We were stationed in the barrel room where they had the pairing taking place.
Rebecca came along with me to cut the cheese as they bought it to make it more authentic. I am not as familiar with the cheese either so I'm glad Rebecca came to help explain the cheese better to guests. As Rebecca cut and sized the cheese for the guests, I wrote what kind of cheese it was on the labels and kept record of how much of each cheese we sold.
The winery had different stations set up throughout the room, with each having a different pairing of wine and cheese.
Each guest was encouraged to bring a canned good as their cost of doing the wine and cheese pairing. Rather than spending money to do the pairing, the winery wanted guests to help give back to those in need, especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner!
The women at the winery were very friendly and a pleasure to work with. They very much enjoyed the cheese and bought some for themselves! They offered us a wine slushie topped with whipped cream and cinnamon and it was delicious. It was a great event and the winery had a great turnout for both days! We sold over $100 worth of cheese so I would say it was a success!
One of my favorite things about the farm are the farms dogs and cats that we have.
The dog pictured here is Annie. She will not go anywhere without Kathy in her site.
This pretty cat is Bella and she lives in the barn with the goats and sheep.
This is one of Kathy's loyal dogs named Faith.
Pictured here is one of our Great White Pyranese, Molly.
This is one of my favorite pictures on my blog! Carol is getting all the love from Molly and Stevie. These dogs are responsible for watching over the animals so the coyotes or foxes won't get them.
Bubba is the farmhouse cat who has been around for quite a while!
Valentine Weekend Grazing 2/14/20
The winery we have been doing the previous events with, Black River Farms, hosted an event for Valentine's Day weekend. I had the privilege of being able to be there, sell some cheese, and network with the guests! The event took place at the winery, Friday through Sunday. I was there on Friday, which was Valentine's Day, from 4-8pm. I had a wonderful time handing out samples and talking to each of the guests about Flint Hill Farm and where we are located, which is ten minutes from the winery. The event included a pairing with five of our cheeses and five of Black River Farm's wines. The winery also had the great idea of hiring a caterer who used our cheeses and incorporated them into small appetizers to go along with the pairing. The event had live music by Cubbage, who was very talented.
The wine and cheese pairing included the following cheeses: apricot sage chevre, chocolate habenro chevre, smoked mozzarella, sundried tomato basil cheddar, and stinging nettle cheddar. The appetizers made by the caterer were cheesecake with apricot sage chevre, marinated steak, stuffed dates with chocolate habanero chevre, mini lump crab cakes, and tortellini with the sundried tomato basil cheddar. On Friday, I sold about $60 worth of cheese, which was more than I expected! The guests very much enjoyed the event and thought the pairing was perfect. Black River Farms is hoping we can do another event similar to this one in the near future. I am very pleased with this collaboration and I cannot wait to see what we decide to do next!
I dipped into my creative side in honor of Valentine's Day and put together gift bags for guests who purchased cheese at the event.
Table at the event to sell cheese
Same table but with samples included for those not doing the event!
Black River Farms did a great job setting up for the event with all the decorations and attention to detail!
Live music by Cubbage
This was the feast menu that the caterer had available for guests to purchase!
The turnout for Valentine's Day was a great success!